Newport Public Library created a new Teen Room in 2016 when our director and supervisor kindly surrendered their office space. It compressed the staff, but made a huge improvement for teens, who had previously had only a corner of the main fiction area with limited shelving and no “hang out” area. The Teen Room is relatively small, probably 30′ X 15′, but it has a door that closes, a Playstation, a whiteboard, a Teen Art Display, and a genrified collection with a large area for graphics.
We went from having no regulars, to having a dozen to sixteen or so kids, probably 75% boys, coming to hang out after school each day, with new kids popping in regularly as well. Our circulation numbers jumped at first, but have leveled out. It’s a safe and parent-friendly place for kids to plan to go meet their friends after school, and it’s popularity highlights that there’s more of a need for this in our community than we can provide for! The kids are required to interact with library staff and security guards, and some of our long-timers have definitely showed improvement over time in understanding how to share a public space and how to communicate with adults.
We’re learned a lot from our experience, and consider it a success, but noise and rambunctiousness have been an issue with the staff overall, as the room is poorly insulated and right next to the staff work area. We tried to find attractive, teen friendly furniture, but have found that kids are rougher on it than we expected–they want to sit on the edges of tables, and move the cafe stools up and down so that the metal supports bend and fiberglass pieces snap. We’re starting to consider switching to indestructible vinyl couches and a low, solid coffee table. The paw and hand chairs and the vinyl hassock pieces have help well, though. The cameras are indispensable–sadly, we’ve had a couple serious behavioral issues where reconstruction of events was key.
Written by Stacy Johns
Newport Public Library’s 2016-2017 statistics from the State Library of Oregon:
- County: Lincoln
- Population: 17,254
- Registered borrowers: 12,173
- Total library visits: 160,390
- Total library hours in a typical week: 62
- Total paid staff: 11.9
Want to share what your library is doing for teens? Contact Katie Anderson.